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GELO (Punjabi) - Despite its visible shortcomings, this is an appreciable attempt reviving the rich Punjabi literature & its inspiringly bold vision, especially for the young viewers. (Review by Bobby Sing)

08 Aug, 2016 | Movie Reviews / 2016 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / G

Supporting the courageous effort made taking some big risks with a vision to revive a forgotten era, would like to talk about GELO focusing on its various important features in the following heads.
An exemplary effort in the current ‘monotonous’ scenario of Punjabi Cinema.
When most of the ‘money bags’ in the trade are only interested in making strictly commercial movies revolving around comedy, romance, religion or 84 at one end. And a certain section is only interested in targeting the artistic festival audience all over the globe on the other. Then it certainly needs to be appreciated if a team tries to follow the middle path selecting a realistic bold subject from the rich literature, to be narrated in a style we once used to make our woman-oriented Punjabi films like CHANN PARDESI (1981).
Moreover the effort further becomes even more worthy of a strong appreciation when it features lead artists who wish to make a name through their acting skills alone and are not the usual ‘singer turned actors’ walking tall with their dependable 'singer-crutches'.
So a one big star is granted for these exclusive features to GELO, giving all the deserving credit to its producers and the entire creative team.
(Spoilers Ahead)
About the Film:
The shaky start and an impressive second half making an impact.
Based on the novel with the same title by Sahitya Akademy award winner Sh. Ram Saroop Ankhi and directed by Manbhavan Singh, GELO features Jaspinder Cheema in the lead along with Gurjit Singh as her love interest belonging to a different caste. The film begins with an authentic feel of a remote village of Punjab, but the first 20-25 minutes remain the weakest focusing on their inter-caste relationship and romance in a quite amateurish way. For instance, the long giggles while meeting or sitting together, the naughty eye contacts while passing out of the house, the casual humming of a song sighting the boy and the dance moves actually give away the secret of many first timers emoting on the screen making a casual impression.
However the scenario suddenly changes once the unexpected tragedy comes in and Jaspinder pleasantly transforms into a completely different character showing much more promise and matureness as compared to what she playfully tries to do in the film’s early part.
In other words, as a bold thought provoking film, GELO takes time to make an impact in its first half and then doesn’t disappoint the viewer post intermission forcing him to walk out of the theater thinking about the main protagonist’s unfortunate, tragic life and nothing else. In fact that’s the power of the solid content provided by the original story by Sh. Ram Saroop Ankhi, which remains the major pull of the entire project putting it honestly.
Follows a fearfully controlled or shy way of executing ‘a much bold’ subject
Thinking about the strong, naked truth of our society presented in the novel without any holding back, GELO as a film seems to be a much controlled and ‘Hath Rok Ke Banayi Gayi Film” as I would like to explain it (in terms of execution).
Giving you the exact meaning of the phrase, every bold part of the storyline is executed in a very subtle (disciplined) manner, with a fear that it should not offend anyone in the viewers, censor or the society as a whole in Punjab and abroad. So whether it is the first killing, the first night after the forced marriage, the scenes at the brothel or the insult felt by the contractor post the allegations, the execution never turns out to be visually bold shaking up the casual viewers not mentally ready to watch any brutal stuff.
As a result you keep watching the shocking proceedings with only suggestive visuals and powerful dialogues, get decently impressed too relating with the key characters, but don’t ever feel the goose bumps or tears in your eyes until the last 20 minutes of the film to be precise.
And in the world of creative expressions, if a poet, writer, painter, director or more tries to present something with such kind of fears in mind (about how his creation might offend the people with its bold content), then that artist is neither true to his art nor will be able to deliver any masterpiece creation ever with such a conservative and fearful mindset underplaying with his own vision.
In short, just imagine if Sh. Ram Saroop Ankhi would have thought, lets not take GELO to the brothel as it will offend many, lets add a sequence where she bravely fights an attempt of rape and comes back as a winner pleasing every reader.
Just think what that would have done to his novel and its actual soul.
Technicalities and Music
On technical grounds, the first confusion that never gets cleared in the story progression throughout is that what exact time period, its characters are living in, with big contradictions in the various props (cars/houses) used repeatedly. Next the changes in the physical appearances of its characters as per the years passed remains unconvincing right till the end with the overdone make-up unnecessarily drawing your attention in many key sequences. Besides, where cinematography appreciatively provides the film an authentic look and feel, the background score lacks the innovative ethnic arrangements strongly required for such theme set in a specific time period.  
In the soundtrack, one doesn’t mind watching the songs in the initial half an hour showcasing the romance, ambience of a village and its day to day life. But there still isn’t any highly melodious and catchy track to take back home, plus I really wish the songs were shot without any dance movements as such avoiding the amateurish moves given to both the leading characters.
Sincere efforts of the performers
In the performance section, though the entire team puts up a pretty decent show in their respective roles, but it’s the constrained approach of director Manbhavan Singh that the actors are not able to come up with their 100% on screen except a few particular sequences in the second half.
For instance, Jaspinder Cheema slowly sinks into the character and then is able to open up dramatically as required only in the final hour. As GELO she does deliver a good performance but it still isn’t the one that compels you to give any standing ovation in the end as she meets her young daughter. On the other hand Gurjit Singh leaves a mark in his small role and doesn’t go overboard (if one ignores the out of date choreography in his opening song). However it was quite strange to see the TV promos presenting him as the lead actor when he actually plays just a cameo kind of role finishing in the first 30 minutes itself.
Under utilizing a much experienced Pavan Malhotra, the director again asks for a less powerful performance from the actor intentionally, whereas he could have easily given a new definition to the word TERROR if presented in a different manner. Personally, I found a great opportunity lost when the sequences post the ‘public humiliation’ by Gelo were not shot and executed with the much required feeling of insult, shame and anger as per the demand of the theme. Still Pavan adds a lot to the overall impact of the film along with Dilavar Sidhu, who makes the best use of the opportunity given playing the drug addict husband.
A decent, well intentioned film in totality, that ought to be more hard hitting and brutal.
Overall, GELO is able to make a decent impression mainly due to its strong, bold and unpredictable storyline presented with impressive dialogues that do enhance the impact at regular intervals. However with a much hard hitting and brutal approach, this could have become a major path-breaking project for Punjabi Cinema and its viewers who yet haven’t shown any strong willingness to watch something out of the routine in the theatres.
Nevertheless GELO still can become a positive beginning of a new era where the producers are able to find the much required courage to go for films based on the rich Punjabi literature waiting to be explored since long.
And addressing the younger brigade of Punjabi community in particular,
ignoring its shortcomings as a film, the experience of watching GELO should ideally enlighten you about the rich, potent literature in Punjabi language that has been widely ignored by the community, its religious/political leaders and the filmmakers together since last few decades.
So do give it a chance and then try exploring the precious, rich literature lying untouched on the dirty forgotten shelves of all the ‘unvisited libraries’.
Rating : 3 / 5
(Note: Interestingly the basic concept of GELO strongly reminded me of a 1984 Hindi film titled BHAVNA directed by Pravin Bhatt having an identical theme. The film had Shabana Azmi playing the lead role and she won the Filmfare Award for her brave and fabulous act too surprising many.)

Tags : GELO Movie Review by Bobby Sing, GELO Punjabi Film Review by Bobby Sing, New Punjabi Films Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Punjabi films on Literature, Punjabi films on Punjabi Novels, Sh Ram Saroop Ankhis Novel GELO, Pavan Malhotra in Gelo, New Punjabi Releases review by Bobby Sing
08 Aug 2016 / Comment ( 0 )
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